The year is 2014. You are a white Western woman. You wake up in the morning in a comfortably sized house or flat. You have a full or part-time job that enables you to pay your rent or mortgage. You have been to school and maybe even college or university as well. You can read and write and count. You own a car or have a driver’s licence. You have enough money in your own bank account to feed and clothe yourself. You have access to the Internet. You can vote. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend of your choosing, who you can also marry if you want to, and raise a family with. You walk down the street wearing whatever you feel like wearing. You can go to bars and clubs and sleep with whomever you want.
Your world is full of freedom and possibility.
Then you pick up a newspaper or go online. You read about angry women ranting about sexism and inequality. You see phrases like ‘rape-culture’ and ‘slut-shaming.’ You furrow your brow and think to yourself: ‘What are they so angry about? There is no such thing as sexism anymore.’
Now imagine this:
The year is 2013. You are a 25 year-old Pakistani woman. A few months ago, you married the man you love. A man you choose for yourself. You are also pregnant with his child. You see your life stretching out before you, filled with hope and happiness. Suddenly, you and your husband are dragged away from each other. You are both beaten with bricks and batons. You can’t fight back. You can’t escape. No one comes to help you. Through your fading vision, you look up, and look into the eyes of one of your assailants: into the eyes of your father.
The year is 2013. You are a 23 year-old Indian woman. You are a physiotherapy student with a promising career ahead of you. You are sitting on a private bus travelling home alone on a warm December evening. You gaze out of the window as the buildings of New Dheli rush past you and feel content. Suddenly, a blunt force hits the back of your head and you fall to the floor of the bus. A group of strange men are standing over you. They bring the metal bar down on you again and again and again until all you can taste is the blood filling up your mouth. You pray that you will die soon. And you do, but not then. You are raped, beaten, and tortured over and over again. Death is slow and agonising.
The year is 2014. You are a 13 year-old girl from Niger. You no longer live there though. You are now living in the neighbouring country Nigeria, sitting alone in small room on a small bed in a small apartment high above the city of Kano. You are not allowed to leave. Your stomach is swollen from the unwanted life growing inside of it. You had no choice. The father is a man in his 40s. He is a businessman. He has bought you as his wife. You were a penniless, uneducated girl when he came for you. You don’t know of any life you could have had. Neither did your family: just one less mouth for them to feed. You still have the body of a child, and it’s straining under the pressure from the one inside of you. You feel like you’re about to be split in two. You don’t wonder if you will survive the birth. A part of you doesn’t want to.
These are fictionalised accounts of real events that have happened to real women living in our world today. They follow the past 250 years of women and men campaigning for women to be given equal rights to men to prevent these kinds of injustices and abuses on the grounds of gender taking place. Over the course of this time, campaigners – Feminists, both female and male – have been locked up, beaten, tortured, and even killed, in the pursuit of equality. They did this with pen and ink and print; they did this with their voices; they did this with their bodies; they did this with art and music; they did in courts of law and halls and houses of government that they fought be to allowed into.
They did this so that women would no longer been seen as property, livestock, breeding machines, sex objects, punching bags, or infantile morons. They did this not just for themselves, but also for their daughters, and their daughters, and their daughters for generations to come. They did this for women they would never meet – women who lived across countries, across vast oceans, across the entire globe, and even across time.
They did this so that women like me – a white Western woman – could attend school and university; to learn to read, write, and think critically; to gain a degree; to get a job and be paid an equal salary to a man in the same position; and to sit here with my own computer and type all of this.
Feminism is a movement for freedom, equality, choice, love, compassion, respect, solidarity, and education. We may argue, we may disagree, we may struggle to understand the choices and perspectives of others sometimes, but these core beliefs of the movement have never changed, and they never will.
That is why I am a Feminist.
If you feel that you have so far lived your life unaffected by even the mildest form of sexism – anything from feeling uncomfortable when a man catcalls you in the street, to feeling scared walking home alone at night in a secluded area – and are treated with love and respect by every man in your life, then to you I say: I’m glad for you. If you don’t think you need feminism, then that is a victory for the movement. You have fulfilled all those dreams that every suffragette being force-fed in prison and every ‘witch’ burnt at the stake dreamed you would one day.
But perhaps take a second to consider the life of the Pakistani woman who was beaten to death by her own family for marrying a man of her choosing. Or the life of the Indian woman who was raped, beaten, and murdered on a bus by a gang of men. Or the life of the little girl in Niger who was sold to a man more than twice her own age and forced to carry a baby that may kill her to deliver. Do they still need feminism?
And perhaps take a second to consider this too: Even in our liberal, Western world, why do women still only fill 24% of senior management jobs? Why are more women than men domestically abused or even killed every week at the hands of their male partner or ex-partner? Why is there still a pay gap (in the UK specifically) of 15% for women doing the same jobs and working the same hours as men?
And what about on a cultural level? Have you ever noticed how comedy panel shows usually only have one female panellist compared to 4-5 male ones? That almost every dieting product on the market is solely aimed at women? How a lot of newspapers and advertising campaigns will use a sexualised or pornographic image of a woman to sell news or products that have nothing to do with sex?
Or perhaps on a personal level: Do you choose to wear certain clothes because you want to or because you feel ‘unfeminine’ if you don’t? Do you choose to cover yourself up because you want to or because you feel ashamed or intimidated by a man looking at your body? Do you shave your legs and underarm hair because you want to or because you will look ‘ugly’ if you don’t? Did you parents dress you in pink as a baby because they liked the colour or because you were born a girl? Do you want to have children because you want to or because you are a woman?
When you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, do you see yourself through your own eyes, or through the eyes of the men that will look at you when you walk out the door?
The fact is, like it or not, you still live a world where gender matters. Where gender controls not just the entire course of your life – but the lives of women all over the world. Every second, a child will be born female in a country where she will persecuted for this random biological occurrence for the rest of her life. So before you hold up your anti-Feminist placard proudly and smile at your own sense of empowerment, think not what Feminism can do for you, but what it can do for that one girl. She needs someone to stand up for her. That someone could be you.
The stories of the women mentioned in this post were sourced from these sites:
Other facts and statistics were sourced from here:
1. if your ex-boyfriend is texting you more than your current boyfriend… there’ s a problem.
2. everyone keeps saying, ‘people who post selfies are narcissist fucks’… NOT TRUE! The TRUTH is, if you DON’T post selfies, it means you don’t like yourself. Glad we solved that one! Phew! Now let’s all lean towards self esteem!
3. if you are one of those people who has an application that alerts you to who unfollows you on insta or twitter, you are a loser.
4. if you are one of those people who has an application that alers you to who unfollowed you on insta or twitter and then you confront the person who unfollowed you about it, i have no words for how embarrassing you are.
5. spotify is a million times better than pandora. but you know that already… right?
6. dear erewhon and all other deli sections of supermarkets: don’t let the handles of the ladles and tongs, that you grab with your bare hands, touch the food it sits in! it’s disgusting!!! And ps: you’re supposed to be wearing gloves!!! GLOVES!!!
7. yes, you are SO right! shaving your bikini line is WAY cheaper than getting waxed at a profesh salon! but razor burn isn’t sexy and doesn’t create an atmosphere someone wants to bury their face in… ya know?
8. whichever law & order series you choose as your favorite, says a lot about you. mine is svu. oh no!
9. if you subconsciously feel like you’re doing your boyfriend a favor by being with him,that’s a relationship you should get out of. your poor boyfriend.
10. cats would be so much cooler if they gave massages & did the dishes. i mean, i feel like all i do is feed the thing, go out of my way to entertain it & then try my hardest to NOT be attacked.
i don’t know what it is. is it a sign of the times? whatever it is, i tend to feel perpetually unsatisfied.
am i alone in this?
it’s funny, if i didn’t set such high, specific goals for myself, maybe i wouldn’t feel this way. maybe i’d be satisfied. but being ‘satisfied’ sounds horrible too. satisfaction sounds like giving up. like getting fat, wearing sweat pants, & watching television… forever. like settling.
but as long as i haven’t met my self-imposed goals, i feel like a failure. i feel incomplete. i feel ‘less than’. and i’m sure as hell not grateful for all that i DO have. as it is: life is great. i am a white girl with bangs in los angeles. aside from getting the least serious form of cancer when i was in my early twenties (thyroid) and being emotionally & physically abused by my parents (hitting, not molesting – but geeze, what was wrong with me? not pretty enough? jkjk)… i have a good life. i’ve always made a living all on my own. i don’t have a rich family to fall back on, so i’ve never had help or a safety net. and i would never think to ask anyone for help.
but i want a lot for myself. i’m not sure if accomplishing those things will even make me happy, but right now, i believe it will… so that’s what i strive for. and if i get those things, and they don’t bring me happiness, i will go from there. yes, i know you’re supposed to be happy with yourself first because no person or thing can complete you or fill a hole inside you. well, except my vaginal hole- but you know what i mean. anyways… for the most part i am happy. but when i am quiet and still; when i am just meant to co exist and be calm with another – it’s hard for me. being in a partnership when i am unsatisfied with myself and terrified of potentially NEVER realizing my goals makes me take it out on my partner – which makes me feel as though i’m better off being alone until i realize my dreams. but that might never happen and then i will be alone forever. i need to learn to co-exist with someone no matter what i’m experiencing. don’t i? idk. i’m so rigid and controlled, and can be really stubborn and a know it all. i even constantly question what type of man i’m most supposed to be with- even when i’m WITH a good one. like a lot of girls, i’m chasing a ghost. someone who may not even exist. this scares me. do i take the imperfect, interesting beauty life places in front of me, and realize that that’s what life is… or do i get caught up in my head and say: i should be this, my life should be that, i should be with the type of man who is a, b, or c. even though i’ve yet to meet that phantom man, or even gel with/be interested in him if i HAVE met him.
aren’t all the answers in me? don’t i control my life’s path? if i need / want to accomplish shit, isn’t that all on me? does it matter who i’m with? will i always be unsatisfied? is this the state of the nation – and by nation, i mean privileged people with no real problems? how dare you. it’s all relative. if you have the time to read a blog or instagram, you can relate to me, possibly. but really, is this feeling of perpetual dissatisfaction a sign of the times? does everything move too fast? do we have too many choices at our fingertips? are we comparing ourselves too much because we have the outlets to watch other people brag and showcase their ‘perfect’ exciting lives… even though, behind closed doors, they’re probably suicidal?
i wonder if there’s more. i’ve been listening to radio shows lately that feature a guy named james van praagh, who says we are all just souls who inhabit a body and we never really die. there is no such thing as dying in fact, we just leave the bodies we inhabit. we leave these space suits. and we are here on this earth because we chose to be; to learn a lesson. sometimes i wonder what my lesson is to learn while i’m here. i don’t meditate. i don’t like yoga- sometimes i do, but for the most part i don’t. i like long quiet walks while i people watch and think thoughts and am in my head. i’ve heard this is a type of walking meditation. i’m a searcher. be it with my writing, via therapy, books, psychics, shamans, clairvoyants, tarot, conversations with strangers young & old, etc. i want to know what’s gonna happen, i want to learn from people, i want to know it’s all gonna be ok, i want to make a dent in this lifetime, i want to be seen and be helpful and be recognized for making a positive difference, i want to make people laugh. i want to feel connected. i want to feel like i belong. i want a lot.
i guess i have to find the happy medium of enjoying life, being happy, being grateful, being in the moment, working, and resting – so i can appreciate the special and amazing things that happen, while always simultaneously continuing to strive for more so i grow and feel like i’m learning something, becoming better, contributing something not even intentionally, just via my trying to understand more and go deeper and because i like what i’m doing. and appreciating the moments as they happen. not always living in the future. a future that might never happen.
i have to stop with the “i’ll be happy when that happens.” “when THAT happens, then i’ll feel like i can have fun/take a trip/do that thing/breathe/feel worthy of existing/feel like i’m good enough/bring something to the table/am no longer invisible/am allowed to exist.”
i’m realizing that it’s the process of being ‘in the doing’ and making of things that brings happiness. building a life and collecting stories that makes for an emotionally satisfying full life experience. a rich life. a fulfilling life. a higher quality of life. i’m even gonna get a cat so i have to put my attention on another living thing outside of myself, so i stop being so self-centered and selfish. i’m gonna go out-of-town without being filled with fear that i might miss a job or people might get mad at me. i’m gonna ground myself. i’m gonna have self-worth. i’m striving for more. a higher quality of life.
this perpetual dissatisfaction is a surefire recipe for depression. and it has to stop. i get so trapped in my head, spiral downward and am missing out on what could be a great life because of all my doom and gloom. things that help me get out of my head are listening to music all the time. listening to it loud. taking baths. taking pride in how i put myself together before i leave the house, and throwing myself into writing/work, always having a book to read or listen to; always be learning and discovering things: be it music, art, people, designers, writers, etc. being inspired or to inspire. be nice. talk to strangers… but not too much and not ALL the time. having boundaries is important & being conscious of the energy you expend on people and things that aren’t good for you or who are not worth your time & could suck you in and drain you.
that list was for me. but it’s for you too if you need it.
i’m just trying to be satisfied.
or at least live somewhere in between satisfied and unsatisfied.
When I read this story, I was shocked/disgusted/angry and immediately felt the need to post it. Please read and share your thoughts in the comment section. Girls, hopefully reading this will remind you to ALWAYS follow your intuition, never be afraid to say no, and to STOP being a people pleaser. But what enraged me even more than Terry was his FEMALE assistant who served as his wing woman, catering to him by exploiting other women and trying to disguise it all as ‘cool’ and ‘fun’ is beyond revolting. But read for yourself. (this coming from a girl who has posted a million of terry richardson’s photos alongside blog posts on this very website. ha! that will change.)
When I was 12 years old, my mother hit pause on the VCR player, stopping the movie we were watching. I’m pretty sure it was starring Ashley Judd, and it could have been A Time to Kill, but all I remember is that whatever it was involved rape. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that when she was 23 years old, she was abducted by a stranger, held captive in the Southern California woods, and brutally raped to within an inch of her life.
From then on, nothing that happened to me was that big a deal. Not a truck driver leaning out his window as I walked to high school, gleefully yelling at me, “I wanna rape that thing, baby!” nor giving a blow job in an alleyway to a boy I didn’t even like nor my eighth-grade homeroom teacher instructing my male classmate to shove his hand up my skirt during a fire drill. Not getting followed to my Cornelia Street doorstep at 19 by a stranger and threatening to call the police while he pressed his erection into my thigh. Not going undercover as an “erotic maid” for an NYU undergrad class, when I wore nothing but a thong and stilettos in front of strange men in their homes to find out if they actually wanted me to clean or if they just cared about getting off (take a wild guess). Not my college professor following me into the women’s restroom in the middle of a lesson to stick his tongue down my throat (same school, different class). Not even my mother’s close friend pinning me to my bed at 16 and telling me, with a hardcover copy of my favorite book in his hands, I was his own version of the namesake character “Lo-li-ta,” as he attempted to penetrate me. None of that was a big enough deal to make into a big deal.
So when Terry Richardson shoved his hardening dick into my face in 2008, when I was 23 years old, it wasn’t anything for me to get too emotional about, either. Only pussies get emotional. I might be a girl who wears lipstick just to check the mail and whines when her high heel breaks and cries when certain things don’t go her way and wants a brand-new dress for every minor occasion and yes, has a pussy, but I would not be a pussy. I would be a “player,” impervious to emotions, too aloof to be vulnerable, too tough to act sensitive, and too cool to admit I sometimes, only sometimes, wanted a boyfriend and not just a one-night stand. I would give blow jobs because I liked giving blow jobs, not because I cared about making guys like me (lie). Because that, from the age of 12 to 27, was my muddled interpretation of feminism. Unfortunately, it didn’t make me impervious to sad, misguided, insecure men.
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When you’re feeling the initial pangs of loss and despair from a break up; when your final texts leading up to it all being over are sending and you’re looking at the bubbles on your phone in anticipation of what he’ll say next… Just know: you were always alone, even when you thought you weren’t, it was just shrouded by a momentary distraction that may have even lasted over 10 years… but you were always alone. You may have learned about yourself, had sex, had good sex, laughed, and shared experiences… but know for sure: you were always alone. The other person may have encouraged you, inspired you, or kept you from getting stuff done. They were a momentary sidekick you had during a fragment of the time you’re spending on this Earth during this lifetime – but you were on your own even then, even though you didn’t realize it. And now you’re alone again, just like you were when you came out of your moms vagina, or removed via c-section, or delivered via stork; Whatever your case may have been. And you’ll be ok. you might even be better.